Wednesday, July 24, 2013

VSA is Drawing to a Close...

Today I went on my last 3-mile run of VSA. After the run, I took a shower, and went to breakfast at 8:10 AM. We started class at 9 with another Puzzler: John and Mary are a married couple. They go to a dinner with 4 other couples, making 10 people in total. Each person shakes hands with the people he/she does not know. (Obviously, no one shakes their own spouse's hand.) At the end of the dinner, John asked everyone (including his wife, Mary) how many hands they shook. The answers were 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. How many hands did Mary shake? (I know it looks like there is not enough information, but there is.) As always, STOP reading if you want to solve it yourself.

After a couple minutes of thinking, Dawson told us to draw 10 people, and draw lines between them to signify handshakes. First, we connected person A to 8 people. This means the one person he/she did not shake hands with (besides themselves) is his/her spouse. Therefore, 8 and 0 are a couple. If you continue with this, the couples become 7 and 1, 6 and 2, and 3 and 5, and 4 and 4. Since one of each number was listed, the 4 and 4 pair must be John and Mary. Therefore Mary has 4 handshakes.

Next, we had out penultimate student lesson on Circles and their Line Segments (Chords, Secants, Tangents, etc.). The first Mission Holder had to drum on his desk with his pens. For the longest time, the teacher seemed not to notice, so towards the end, he was drumming so loud you could not hear the teacher. At this point, the teacher started augmenting the beat of the drummer. We all started laughing. We thought the teacher would take the pens away, not condone the drumming. When Dawson complained that the drumming was interfering with his "learning," the teacher replied with, "Too bad, I like the drumming." After this, the teacher asked the drummer to sit up front and drop a beat for the remainder of class. The second Mission Holder had to get up 4 times during the lesson to throw something away. There is no trash can in our classroom, so he had to go out into the hall. The teacher did not say anything about this either. (The student never asked, but just got up and did it.) Towards the end of the lesson, the student made sure to walk right in front of the teacher while he was up at the board teaching. Again, the teacher just let it go. The Academic Mission Holder got the Secant Theorem mixed up every time. This lesson did not go very well at all. The teacher did not even have any idea why the theorems he used are true. He also wrote the wrong problems on the board multiple times. Thirdly, he did not do anything to stop those who were interfering with the class's learning.

The final lesson was on pyramids. The first Mission Holder had to ask periodically if we could go outside. The second Mission Holder had to put 1+1 in her calculator and keep pressing Enter. (The goal was to get as high as possible, by adding 1 each time.) I was the Academic Mission Holder. Since the lesson was on pyramids, I would use the slant height instead of the height to find the volume, add to find the area instead of multiply etc. The teacher had a very interesting approach to teaching. At the beginning of class, he played Ancient Egyptian Music, had us all put our phones on the front table, and had up put our backpacks in the back of the room. His reward for putting your phone on the table was a gummy bear. He then proceeded to teach. For every problem or question he asked, a correct answer earned the student a gummy bear. By the end of the lesson, over 100 gummy bears had been handed out. The teacher handled the outside question very well, by saying the student could go outside when class was over in __ minutes. He did not notice the calculator mission, so the student got up to 25,000. Whenever I got a wrong answer, he would look at my work (or have me put it on the board), and then show me where I went wrong.

After this lesson, Dawson gave a lecture on Game Theory. He started with a partner activity. One person was offered $100, but they must offer the second some portion of the money. Only one offer can be made. Logic states that the first person should offer the second person $1. This way the first person and second person get more money than if the offer is rejected. But 1000s of studies have been done that show virtually no one accepts the $1 deal, because the other person is getting $99. In Game Theory you must think not only about yourself, but others moves. People get upset when they are offer $1, so that someone else can get $99.

Next, Dawson introduced the Prisoner's Dilemma. You and a friend are arrested by the police. You and your friend (Person A and Person B) are questioned in separate rooms. You can either be silent, or confess. If both are silent, not much is known, so each person gets 1 year in prison. If one person confesses, he gets to go free with probation, but the other person get 10 years in jail. If both confess, each gets 5 years in jail. Dawson gave us a folded index card. We put our name, and if we would choose to confess, or be silent. He then randomly paired us, and revealed our fates. Next, Dawson pointed out that in the dual confession case, neither person could improve their fate unless the other person does too. This is called the Nash Equilibrium. (Since it was discovered by a man named Nash.) Dawson showed us a clip from the movie A Brilliant Mind. (We are watching the whole movie tomorrow.) I learned from the movie that before Nash's work, everyone thought the best outcome for the group would come from everyone doing what favored his/herself the most. The movie showed gave an example of why this is not true. I was very glad Dawson showed the clip. I thought it explained it a little bit better than he did.

After the Game Theory lecture we had lunch. When we came back from lunch, we had the Poker Tournament. First, Dawson explained the rules. We were going to play Texas Hold'em Poker. The 14 of us (12 students plus Dawson and Emily) were randomly divided into two tables of 7 people. Although we had a dealer card, and rotated it around after each game, Emily and Dawson did all the shuffling and dealing for the sake of time. Dawson had it structured so that the Little Blind and Big Blind increased every 15 minutes. Each person started with $1000 in chips, and the initial Little and Big Blinds were $5 and $10. The minimum bet for any round of betting was the Big Blind value. By 3 PM, the Blinds were up to $1000, and $2000. (Dawson wanted the game to end soon after 3, so that we would have enough time to go to Ben and Jerry's after.) After six people were eliminated, we
consolidated into one table. I just barely made the cut, and had only $290. The top two people had over $5000. I was soon out, so I played other card games with the losers. We started with BS, but eventually, played Spades. I actually enjoyed Spades more than Poker. At the beginning of Poker, it was enjoyable, but towards the end it was not fun as everyone was trying to get me out of the game.

Mmmmm! Ice Cream!
After the Poker tournament ended around 3:15, Dawson gave us all a ballot with the list of student and their lessons. We were supposed to vote for the top three. Dawson said he is going to give recognition to various lesson tomorrow (for various aspects), and that he wants our input. He said that every year he has done the voting, his top three, and the students's top three were the same. After quickly handling the voting, we headed off to Ben and Jerry's. I ended up getting a cone with Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream. (I know it does not look like mint, but I could definitely taste it.) It was really good: the best Mint-Chocolate Chip ice cream I've had.

After Ben and Jerry's, we had free time until dinner (2 hours.) I ending up playing Spades with Keli'i and two other floor mates. This game was a lot more fun, because we played more than one round. We almost won the game, but we did not have enough time to play another round. (In Spades, your team wins or loses a certain number of points. The first team to 500 points wins.)

After dinner we had the VSA Talent Show. The performances ranged from dancing to singing to standup comedy. The stand up comedy (by Jorge) was by far the best act. It turned out that it was almost all Improv, because the act he had worked on for 3 weeks was too long, and had too much space in between jokes. He discovered this about 1 hour before the show. The MC's tried to be funny with their introductions of the acts, but not even their best joke was comparable to Jorge's worse. Another hilarious act was when some students made a parody of the One Direction song "Light Up My World," about our proctor Hugh. I thought many of the acts sucked, but those two made it worth it for me. After the show we had a proctor meeting and played more Spades.

Tomorrow we are not doing a whole lot of math. I know we are watching a movie for part of the day, and we do not have study hall. Instead we have the VSA closing ceremony. We also have the Decades Dance in the evening. There's only one full day left. I know without a doubt that I will miss VSA. 

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